Ralph Vaughan Williams – On Wenlock Edge

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Vaughan Williams
On Wenlock Edge
Piano Quintet in C minor
Romance and Pastorale [Two pieces for violin and piano]

Mark Padmore (tenor)

The Schubert Ensemble [Simon Blendis & Alison Dods (violins), Douglas Paterson (viola), Jane Salmon (cello), Peter Buckoke (double bass) & William Howard (piano)]

Recorded 25-27 September 2007 in Potton Hall, Suffolk

Reviewed by: Peter Joelson

Reviewed: May 2008
Duration: 60 minutes



A. E. Housman’s collection of poems, “A Shropshire Lad”, was the inspiration for quite a number of British composers to write song-cycles, or in George Butterworth’s case, a glorious piece of orchestral music. The poems are so lyrical that they cry out for setting to music, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’s work is in the same mould as Mahler’s, especially “Des Knaben Wunderhorn”.

“On Wenlock Edge”, a treatment of six Housman poems, was begun with sketches in 1906, but Vaughan Williams had become dissatisfied with his work and decided upon a course of lessons with Maurice Ravel. The three months spent with Ravel were very successful, the Frenchman commenting that Vaughan Williams didn’t attempt to write cod-Ravel, and the results are heard to good effect. Vaughan Williams finished the composition during 1908 altering the setting to voice, piano and string quartet.

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